Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cortez Perry Hooker (1814-1886), Cortez Ewing (1862-1901)

Portrait from the Past and Present of Macomb County, Michigan, 1905.

  After a lengthy stay in the Washington D.C.-Virginia area, we journey to Michigan to highlight the life of Cortez Perry Hooker, a transplant to that state from New York. A member of both houses of the Michigan legislature and a prominent farmer in Macomb County, Hooker's unusual first name "Cortez" was most likely given to him in honor of Hernan Cortes (Cortez), the famed Spanish conquistador and Governor of New Spain who overthrew the Aztec Empire in the early 1520s. 
   Born in Hampton, New York on October 14, 1814, Cortez Perry Hooker was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Martin) Hooker. Little information could be found on Hooker's early life in New York, and by 1837 he had resettled in Macomb County, Michigan, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. Hooker first established himself in Clinton township, and resided there for three years. In the early 1840s he purchased a farm in Washington township, and during his decade long residency there married in 1842 to Margaret Axford (1819-1861). The couple would remain childless and following Margaret's death he remarried in October 1864 to Sarah Ann Smith (1834-1916), with whom he had two children, John C. (1865-1938) and Mary.
  Hooker first entered Macomb County politics in the mid 1840s when he became a Justice of the Peace. He would hold a number of other local offices (including county superintendent of the poor and village alderman) and in 1849 became one of six candidates from Macomb County vying for a seat in the state house of representatives. Hooker would emerge victorious on election day, garnering 1,172 votes, and was one of three Macomb County representatives elected that year
   Serving during the 1850-51 session, Hooker sat on the committee on Enrolled BillsHe continued his political ascent in 1854 by winning election to the state senate, defeating Republican candidate William Canfield by only thirteen votes! During the 1855-56 term Hooker sat on the committees on Manufactures and following his service resided in New Baltimore, Michigan, where he engaged in both merchandising and farming, being acknowledged by the 1882 History of Macomb County as "one of the most extensive, if not the most extensive, farmers in the county.
   Hooker continued involvement in Macomb County politics into the 1860s and 70s, once again serving as a justice of the peace and in 1870 and 1872 was a candidate for county coroner. Cortez Perry Hooker died in New Baltimore on November 7, 1886 at age 72 and was survived by his wife Sarah. Both were interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in that town.

From the Biographical Sketches and Review of the Bench and Bar of Indiana, 1895.

   The political star of Indiana state senator Cortez Ewing shone briefly and brightly in late the late 19th century, being terminated by his death from an epileptic attack in 1901. Remarked as one of the most "adroit young lawyers" ever to practice in Decatur County, Ewing was admitted to the state bar at just 20 years of age and at age 27 was elected as a state senator. Ewing was lifelong native of Decatur County, being born there on September 14, 1862, the son of Abel and Nancy (Patton) Ewing. Bestowed his unusual name in honor of his uncle, attorney Cortez Ewing (1837-1887), the younger Ewing worked the family farm during his youth and would attend school in Greensburg.
   In 1879 the seventeen year old Ewing began reading law under his uncle. He continued his studies for nearly four years, and in February 1883 was admitted to the Indiana bar ex gracia, as he was under age. In September of that year Ewing began a law practice with his uncle, Judge James K. Ewing, a firm that would continue until 1893. Cortez Ewing began involvement in local politics in his early twenties, being a member of the Decatur County Central Committee from 1884-1894. In 1889 he was elected to the Indiana state senate from the counties of Decatur and Shelby and served one four year term. Ewing married during his term on June 18, 1890 to Mary Fletcher Matthews, a daughter of future Indiana Governor Claude Matthews (1845-1898).  The couple would have two children, Claude Whitcomb (1891-1966) and Helen Nan.
   While still an incumbent senator Ewing was selected by then Governor Alvin Hovey to serve on the Board of Managers for the World's Fair for Indiana. Ewing filled that role until the conclusion of the fair in 1893 and continued with his law practice in Greensburg, partnering with lawyer Davisson Wilson in 1895. Ewing would also be retained as counsel for the Big Four Railway Company. 
  Despite being in the prime of his life Ewing grappled with the effects of epilepsy, a malady that eventually claimed his life at age 39 on November 1, 1901. Newspaper reports on his death relate that he had spent a good portion of that day in court and while waiting for a passenger train that evening "dropped dead" at the passenger depot, due to a epileptic seizure. Ewing was survived by his wife and children and was later interred at the South Park Cemetery in Greensburg. 

From the Indianapolis Journal, November 2, 1901.

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